From prioritising yourself to letting go of guilt, these simple tips will soothe your soul this festive season.
Fearne Cotton is busy.
She’s just released a new book (Quiet). She’s the host of a podcast (The Happy Place). She’s a patron of charities including The Prince’s Trust and CoppaFeel! She’s also got two children under the age of six, and a large extended family shared with her husband Jesse Wood.
So how does she make sure she looks after herself?
Cotton confesses that she is “useless at self-care naturally” but knows that she needs to do it, especially around the festive season, which she says can be “detrimental” to your health.
“If you’re just going through the mill of shopping, parties, sorting out your kids’ costumes for the concert, remembering to bring carrying things for school, you feel so strung out,” she tells Stylist.
“You think: ‘Aren’t I meant to be enjoying this time of year?’ It’s difficult.”
And if you feel like you need a bit of a breather this festive season, then worry not. Here, Cotton shares six simple, but effective, tips to help you practice self-care during the busy Christmas period and beyond…
You could easily spend your whole Christmas doing things for other people, but Cotton says you “have to prioritise you and your family”.
“The crux of Christmas is being with people you like and eating good food. The presents and things are extra.
“You have got to do things your way,” she adds.
Set a goal to not have goals
It seems contradictory, but if you’re the kind of person who finds it hard to unwind or let go of things, maybe you need to force yourself to do so, as Cotton does.
“I am very, very lucky in that I like my job,” she says. “My Achilles heel is not knowing how to slow down. I work full throttle; I find it hard to switch off, to not brainstorm ideas for what I’ll be doing next because I want to keep the momentum going.
“I really have to remember that I can take two weeks off and it is not the end of the world. I shouldn’t have a goal, I should just be letting go, but I set myself the goal of letting go.”
Don’t feel guilty
Guilt is a powerful emotion, and it can be easy to let it overtake you, but Cotton says there’s no point in feeling that way.
“Guilt is not going to dilute a problem” she says. “It is a waste of time and energy.
“I have chosen to not go to a Christmas party I’ve been invited to [this year] because I wanted to prioritise my physical health.
“I am not going to feel guilty about it. I am making a decision for me.”
Get some fresh air
The Strictly Come Dancing special, endless Netflix shows, Christmas classics like Love, Actually and The Holiday. When it’s chilly outside and there’s plenty to watch, new presents to unwrap and plenty of selection boxes of chocolate to paw through, it can be tempting to just stay inside for two weeks.
But, Cotton says, breathing in fresh air not scented by turkey can be a great form of self-care.
“As a family it’s all about getting outside,” she says. “There are great films on television, but my kids are both under six, and it’s best to get some crisp fresh air, and just be together in nature.
“Getting outside is a lovely break from all the chaos, from the heat and the bodies. It’s a chance to stop worrying about cooking – and presents!”
Have a bath
It sounds simple, but for Cotton a bath can’t be underestimated. “My husband is away a lot so when I’ve put the kids to bed, it’s about having a bath. It’s a luxury.
“I put my phone in another room and read a great book. Physically, I’m forcing myself to relax because of the heat.”
Accept that there will be arguments
“Who has a family day that doesn’t involve one argument?” asks Cotton. She suggests that expecting arguments to occur during the festive period is one way to make them easier to deal with.
But, she says, remember that this is a time for family to get together.
“You’re together and spending time with each other,” she says. “I love going to my aunt’s at this time of year and catching up with my family. We all lead busy lives and it’s hard to find time to do that.
“Chat to people, have a nice time. Also, have a moment to look around at your family all together (even if they are arguing), and be thankful for [their presence].”
Fearne was talking on behalf of O2 Family, which offers advice and parental controls to help manage the role that technology plays in your household, helping you to make the most out of family time: o2.co.uk/family